December 8, 2017 | by James Greene, Jr.
Music soothes the savage beast; album art gives you something to look at during the cool down. Here now, the 10 greatest and best album covers of 2017, as decided by me, some dink.
Grave Digger, Healed by Metal
Drink in this depiction of a medical procedure so unprecedented even a crow passing by in the foreground must stop to marvel at its wonder. The Grim Reaper is curing this patient of the mortal condition, freeing her from the folly of humanity, helping her cross over to his mystical undead realm where ailments like helicopter parenting and Kickstarter fatigue will no longer cripple her. Kudos to the artist for having the audacity to render one of the assembled holy men in the visage of disgraced “Seinfeld” star Michael Richards. Now that is truly macabre.
Raekwon, The Wild
Finally, Raekwon the Chef puts his own spin on Zootopia, presenting a planet where buxom cougars and medallion-sporting bears are lorded over by a 10-story tall member of Wu Tang (who bears no anthropomorphic animal attributes of his own). The inhabitants of this realm appear unmoved by Raekwon’s towering presence and nonchalant use of the Staten Island Ferry as a step stool. Perhaps they’re ready for a change in leadership? Is an even larger version of GZA running against Raekwon the Giant Non Animal in next year’s primaries?
Lil Yachty, Teenage Emotions
No other album cover this year better celebrates the thrilling beauty of diversity while deftly conveying our core similarity — regardless of race, size, or gender orientation, we all love paying obscene amounts of money to watch the latest cold vomit Hollywood has to offer so as to break up the hours we spend staring at our phones. The story within this story concerns the two young men over Yachty’s left shoulder: The figure in the yellow t-shirt is clearly discussing Star Wars spoilers. His friend is trying to remain cautiously optimistic but cannot mask rising dread over the true identity of Supreme Leader Snoke.
Queen of the Stone Age, Villiains
This artwork twists nuance into the Pettibon school of harsh tragedy, ramping up handbill art to something you’d want to at least put in a higher end frame from Target. The drawing is, of course, a metaphor for the relationship between Joe Biden and Barack Obama (the former constantly trying to goad the latter into foolish shenanigans). If this is making you consider what Queens of the Stone Age would be like if our 44th president threw on a leather jacket and joined up with their ranks, good, the art has satisfied its purpose.
Michael Jackson, Scream
When the King of Pop died, he did not ascend to Heaven, nor was he pulled down to Hades. Rather, he became an enormous sentient cloud of noxious gas, obscuring the moon at every conceivable turn in a misguided pursuit of justice. Sadly, MJ’s spirit now confuses fiction with fact — he believes the events of the “Thriller” video to be historical truth. Thus, the celestial orb where astronauts once golfed must pay for turning Michael into a were-cat all those decades ago. So we speak a new rhyme: eyes of Mike, no moon tonight. Eyes begone, moon is on.
Was this image swiped from a 1970s Playboy article about modes of consciousness or the cover of a geometry text book from the same period? Either way, it evokes the warm comfort of that simpler time, back when Gerald Ford’s lethargic honk soothed us like the soft velour we loved pouring all around our bodies. Velour, like so much quicksand — the logical leap any viewer of this cover would make, proving Quicksand the band to be visionary geniuses.
As the documentary Viva Amiga recently taught us, Amiga computers continue to have a fiercely loyal following in the 21st Century. Count Pnau among that tribe, apparently, reminding listeners that the visual medium may very well have peaked with Photon Paint. Omni magazine, another bastion for the Reagan-era nerd, receives tribute in the group’s logo; let’s also not ignore Pnau’s gratuitous Flight of the Navigator vibe in the ocular traveler. Punk and Abe Vigoda may be dead but the ‘80s are most assuredly not.
Thy Art Is Murder, Dear Desolation
An idealistic dream — the lamb (U.S. citizens) receiving sweet nourishing nectar (single payer health care) from the otherwise cruel and vicious wolf (the U.S. government). Thy art is subtlety!
Juana Molina, Halo
Eyes were so hot in 2017 album art, and none were more disturbing than the ones implanted in the flesh-covered bone on Juana Molina’s Halo. This byproduct of humankind’s nuclear hiccups is one we’d all love to pick up and hurl to the other side of a mountain. These eyes never forget, though, and like all those horror movies you doze through on Netflix, you know Flesh Bone will return with an even heavier gaze to level. Remember when evil was fun? Where’s Freddy when you really need him?
The Orwells, Terrible Human Beings
When you boil it down, all anyone really wants is tasteful nudity and wood paneling. David Lynch has yet to explain where this obvious link to his Twin Peaks universe fits in the timeline but we can hazard a guess that it’s some time after the Log Lady’s final message to Hawk (but before Evil Coop’s confrontation with Green Fist). And folks, give it up for the pair of chattering teeth next to the television. Classic novelties are getting their due after decades of shade.